Ministry to probe sex abuse allegations against teacher
By Samantha Alleyne
June 24, 2004
The Georgetown Department of the Ministry of Education will mount a departmental enquiry into allegations of sexual assault made by two female students against a male teacher of the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School.
Assistant Chief Education Officer/Georgetown, Vibert Hart told Stabroek News yesterday that the findings of the enquiry would be handed over to the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) which will take the necessary decisions.
Meanwhile, the parents of one of the students yesterday said they would not rest until the teacher is made to pay for his alleged misdeeds. They said their daughter was being made to suffer twice, as now her colleagues are ridiculing her, which is distressing.
The teacher, who is 35 years old, was taken into custody on Tuesday after the mother of the child reported the matter to the East La Penitence Police Station. According to her, the police told her yesterday that the man had been placed on station bail while the investigation continues.
The most recent incidents occurred last week Thursday in a toilet and an unused room, according to reports. In one instance, the teacher reportedly told the child that he would show her what was coming in the end-of-year exams.
"He call the girl and went showing she what coming up in test. And den he tell she to come downstairs and he would show she more and she was glad and went downstairs," a student had told this newspaper. The student had reported that she observed the child leaving school shortly after the encounter with the teacher and that the child did not write the exams that afternoon. The child told her friends the next day that the teacher had taken her into the empty room, removed her uniform and inserted his fingers in her private parts. "The girl come to school and look sick, sick. She go home before she write test. And den when the other teachers hear deh only calling she outta class and asking she questions and she shame and went home."
Since then the child has not reported to classes and it is understood that she will be attending another school.
The second child's mother reported that the allegation was that the teacher "fondled her (the child's) breast" and when she told him to stop he did, but not before he had taken her uniform off.
When this newspaper visited the school yesterday, the headmaster declined comment stating that the matter had been reported to the ministry and the police. The President of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and another parent were at the school discussing the matter with the head of the school and other teachers. They also offered no comment, pointing out that they were not privy to the facts of the matter. The PTA is to meet on Monday at 4.30 pm.
'Quick spin about'
Hart told Stabroek News he received a written report from the head of the school yesterday, but that it had actually arrived at the ministry on Tuesday. He said the correspondence indicated that two female students of the school had made allegations of sexual molestation against a male teacher. Both of the students, he said, are in form one. He said while allegations were made by two students, he only received a statement from one of the students, the one who no longer attends school, and the teacher implicated. It is this student whose parents reported the allegation to the police.
According to Hart, the Welfare Department of the ministry heard of the incident on Tuesday, made a "quick spin about" on the same day, did an investigation and submitted an interim report to him. He said the departmental investigation would assist them on the way forward since "so far it is a matter of mere allegations."
Hart pointed out that allegations are being made against the teacher and these need to be investigated. He also noted that the ministry did not discipline teachers. The most it could do is to investigate the matter and forward it to the TSC with certain recommendations with the hope that they will be acted on. "We cannot do anything, we are not the employer. The TSC recruits, disciplines and dismisses."
Questioned about shot putt
The child's mother said yesterday that although the incident occurred last week Thursday, she only became aware of it on Monday afternoon when she received a letter from the headmaster instructing her to visit the school.
And even then, she said it was only after persistent questioning that she was told of the incident, as her daughter said she was afraid because the teacher told her he would have beaten her should she report the matter.
"My daughter told me that she didn't want me to be disappointed in her," the woman said.
According to her, the child said it was during the midday session on Thursday that the teacher pointed her out from among a group of students and called her upstairs.
"She said that she asked the sir if it was her he was calling, and he said yes and she went up to him with her sister … When my daughters went up to him he asked the sister if she ever threw shot putt and she told him no and he told her to go. My (other) daughter said after she said that she throws shot putt he told her to follow him upstairs and then he called her in some room and told her to take off her clothes. She refused and he removed her uniform himself and feel up her breast. When she told him to stop, he told her to put on her clothes and walk a different stairway from him and she must not tell anyone," the woman said via telephone yesterday.
According to her, the child told her sister and they did not report the matter right away because they were scared. The woman said she noticed that her children were acting strangely, because as soon as they got home in the afternoon they went to their rooms, which is not normal. However, it was only on Monday that she realised why, after the children had reported the matter to the headmaster. But by then, the student population had become aware of the incident, since some students saw when the child went into the room with the teacher and she later told them what had transpired.
The woman said when she visited the school on Tuesday the headmaster told her of the allegation made by the child and informed her that she should report the matter to the ministry's 68 Brickdam office.
"I turn and told him that I was not leaving it like that and that I was going to the police first because this is serious. He then told me that there was another child who had made an allegation against a teacher and in the long run the child changed her story and said she lied. But my daughter is not going to lie. My children are quiet children and they don't get into any trouble. ... my children are suffering because children troubling them all the time."
The woman said her child did not write the end-of-year exam on Tuesday and she had asked the headmaster if she would have been allowed to rewrite it. She also asked whether her daughters could be allowed to write their remaining exams in a room by themselves because the other children were taunting them.
"He told me to see him this morning [yesterday] but when I went they told me he was not there. But I know he was there. I see the deputy head and she told my daughter to go and look for the class teacher. My children were not allowed to write the exams by themselves. I was willing to take them everyday and let them write the exams and take them home because they are suffering. I don't think I would send them back to that school. It is too much for them. I was right there and I heard the children calling my daughter 'Sir [name of teacher] girl'..." the woman said.
The woman said she remained at the school the entire day yesterday in an effort to shelter her children from the crude words of the other students but this was to no avail as the children continued their taunting in front of her.
The woman was also upset over the behaviour of the PTA pointing out that even though she was just outside the headmaster's office they proceeded to have a meeting with him without any consultation with her and did not even extend an invitation to her.
"I could try to understand teachers behaving like that but when parents behave like that I don't know. It could have been their children. What would have happened then? This is really terrible, especially for my children."